RS approves 7 bills in under 4 hrs as Oppn skips session
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Left outfits announced a boycott of Rajya Sabha proceedings for the remainder of the ongoing session if the government did not meet their demands, including revoking the suspension of eight MPs .Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 23:23 IST
In an Opposition-less Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, the government quickly cleared seven bills in roughly three and a half hours, putting its legislative agenda back on track after two days of intense protests and disruptions in the Upper House.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Left outfits announced a boycott of Rajya Sabha proceedings for the remainder of the ongoing session if the government did not meet their demands, including revoking the suspension of eight MPs .
After issues related to suspension of MPs and the farm bills were disposed off after a lengthy discussion, legislative agenda took centre-stage around 10 am. By then, the Opposition parties had left the House. And the government managers seized the opportunity to push through several pending bills.
It cleared The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020, The Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 and The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.
The Upper House worked overtime to clear the day’s legislative package before proceedings ended a little after 2 PM.
To be sure, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu repeatedly mentioned that the eight lawmakers expelled during the fracas over the passage of the farm reform bills are welcome to return if they express regret for their action on Sunday. The opposition erupted after the deputy chairman denied a request for a division (or voting) and allowed the passage of the bills through a voice vote.
The protests saw MPs rushing to the well of the house, throwing papers, and standing on the table. The BJP has claimed that the lawmakers abused deputy chairman Harivansh .
The approval of seven bills in such a short time is a rare instance in the Rajya Sabha and may help the BJP meet its target of clearing 20 bills, including those replacing 11 ordinances promulgated during the past three months.
In the Lok Sabha too, the Opposition boycotted the session for a day citing the developments in the other House. The Lower House, which sat beyond midnight to clear bills on both Sunday and Monday, approved three key labour reforms after a debate with no participation from the Opposition.
Former parliamentary affairs secretary, Afzal Amanullah said, “What I have heard is that proper procedure was not entirely followed while suspending the 8 MPs. I would have been happy if magnanimity were shown to take back the suspended MPs. The bills might have been passed in a perfectly legal way, but perhaps we have lost sight of essence of our parliamentary democracy. This doesn’t auger well for future.”
“Parliamentary democracy is never about majoritarian tyranny. But the capacity to listen, absorb and take others along. It is no use serving tea and simultaneously passing seven bills without the opposition presence. Legislative force is irrelevant without moral force and in many ways this already Covid session have made into a sham session by the government,” said senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi.
The three labour bills are: The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, The Industrial Relations Code, 2020 and The Code on Social Security, 2020. The House also cleared The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020.
Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla later called Opposition floor leaders for a chat and urged them to return to the House. According to officials, the meeting was attended by Congress floor leader Adhir Chowdhury and Gaurav Gogoi, NCP’s Supriya Sule, DMK’s TR Balu, Trinamool’s Saugata Ray and others.
The leaders clarified to Birla that they have no grievances against him and are happy with the way the Lower House is running.